Finding Time for Nature Study, Art, Music, Poetry, and PE in High School

Recently on the Simply Charlotte Mason blog, they posted the first article in their series about using the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling through high school. If you have not read the complete article, I highly recommend popping over there and reading the entire entry: Basic Mainstays.

I am eager to read the complete series, but I found this part of the first post especially gratifying:

  • Variety of Subjects
    “Give children a wide range of subjects” (Vol. 3, p. 162). A wide variety of subjects is the first mainstay. We tend to agree with this principle for younger children, but for some reason once a student hits the teen-age years, it’s tempting to focus only on the academics that are required by law or college entrance exams. This tendency does our children a great disservice.
    In the high school years, we should continue giving our children a wide variety of subjects, a broad curriculum that includes art, music, nature study, poetry, and handicrafts. These subjects are the ones that feed our children’s souls and develop them as whole persons.
    So don’t get caught up in a narrow vision of just equipping your child to make a living. “The function of education is not to give technical skill but to develop a person; the more of a person, the better the work of whatever kind” (Vol. 6, p. 147).

I agree wholeheartedly with the thinking stated in this quote and I find that whenever I waver about choosing courses and activities for my boys, I remind myself of their need to be “more of a person”. As our high school years are ticking by, I see how making small adjustments in my plans can provide a better balance of subjects that fit my goals and my boys’ personalities. Finding time for nature study, art and music appreciation, poetry reading, and physical education has provided the balance my boys crave in their high school years. These subjects provide a sort of a relief valve in their day.

How To Make Time: My Suggestions

First of all, I put nature study, art and music appreciation, poetry and physical education on the radar screen when I am planning our days and weeks. Keeping these subjects in mind at the beginning of the planning helps them have a spot on the end schedule.

Make them a priority and not an “extra”.

Nature Study: Combine this with your study of science by choosing topics that may correlate with your course of study. Use the Handbook of Nature Study and other living books and biographies to liven up your normal textbook work. Include time each week for an outdoor activity with your children and get out of the house with them. This has become my special time with my teens as we adventure outdoors together, observe birds throughout the year, or work in the garden together. Make nature study something you look forward to doing together.

Art and Music Appreciation: One 45 minute period each week is enough to include these studies in your high school schedule. I have found that combining art and music appreciation with our history study has been a snap, greatly enriching the somewhat drier aspects of history. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your teen has no interest in classical music or paintings. Give them some say in who they will study and how they will complete the study. For more ideas, see my free plans for this year HERE. I sometimes borrow time from our history schedule to focus on a particular artist, composer, or time period.

Poetry: I regularly plan on covering one poet per term with my high school age boys. They really enjoy the break from regular literature study, even memorizing a few lines here and there for fun.. This can be combined with your literature study time or perhaps replacing a literature time slot one day a week. This term we focused one complete week on Emily Dickinson instead of spreading it out over the term and this was a fun way to include poetry as well. Do what works for your life. (I use the same ideas for including some Shakespeare each term.)

Physical education: You need to keep it simple and make it a routine. My boys are expected to complete a set of stretching and strength building exercises four days a week and then run a mile once a week. I pretty much leave it up to them to complete these activities at a time that works in their schedule and it usually takes them 15 -20 minutes per day. The other way we include additional PE is to make it a family activity. Once a week they are required to complete a “bigger” PE activity. I make a list of acceptable activities and they get to choose: one-on-one basketball, bike riding on the trail, weightlifting with their older brother, Frisbee, or any other activity with another person. We also include family hiking time as part of their PE and they get a pass for snowboarding each winter. They plan how to fit the snowboarding in with their schoolwork. Physical education is just a regular part of our life and it does not at all feel like “schoolwork”.

The key to our success in keeping these activities in our high school schedule is to keep it simple, combine them with other more academic subjects when possible, and then keep them as a priority in my mind, remembering that my aim is it make “more of a person”.

Don’t forget to click over and read the rest of the article on Simply Charlotte Mason.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom
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